Possibly the most unreported, horrifying incident of the Hurricane Katrina disaster was the illegal detention by police and the Louisiana National Guard of 20,000 New Orleans residents in a wasteland between two freeways. These survivors, including many elderly, children and people evacuated from hospitals and predominantly people of color, were rounded up and then held at gunpoint without adequate shelter, food or medical attention for days before being put on busses and transported hundreds of miles away from their homes.
Elizabeth Atly's powerful documentary " Left to Die" is an expose of the human rights abuses that occurred at what's known as the Causeway Concentration Camp. Interviewees and witnesses tell of the hellish conditions endured by people who had just escaped injury and death in the storm and who thought they were being transported to safety. The military told those incarcerated that they were stripped of their citizenship because it was "a time of war" and the few who escaped from the camp were hunted down by the Guard and returned to the area. No media recording was allowed in the area, although one detainee shot some clandestine photos, and reports of death and injury that occurred there remain censored.
Atly includes footage of the federal legislative hearings that followed the disaster including the disbelief by congressman Christopher Shays of the witnesses' testimony and also the gloating words of Jefferson parish sheriff Harry Lee that he was satisfied with the work done to keep the riffraff out of his area.
Atly, a Portland filmmaker, will be showing her documentary again at the Bagdad Theater Nov.13 & 14 (see indymedia calendar). It's definitely worth viewing to see how the government can take advantage of a disaster to advance its agenda for people of color, the poor and working class.